Biblical literature

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Biblical literature, four bodies of written works: the Old Testament writings according to the Hebrew canon; intertestamental works, including the Old Testament Apocrypha; the New Testament writings; và the New Testament Apocrypha.

The Old Testament is a collection of writings that was first compiled và preserved as the sacred books of the ancient Hebrew people. As the Bible of the Hebrews và their Jewish descendants down lớn the present, these books have sầu been perhaps the most decisive sầu single factor in the preservation of the Jews as a cultural entity and Judaism as a religion. The Old Testament & the New Testament—a toàn thân of writings that chronicle the origin & early dissemination of Christianity—constitute the Bible of the Christians.

The literature of the Bible, encompassing the Old and New Testaments và various noncanonical works, has played a special role in the history và culture of the Western world & has itself become the subject of intensive sầu critical study. This field of scholarship, including exegesis (critical interpretation) và hermeneutics (the science of interpretive principles), has assumed an important place in the theologies of Judaism and Christianity. The methods và purposes of exegesis & hermeneutics are treated below. For the cultural and historical contexts in which this literature developed, see Judaism và Christianity.

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Influence and significance

Historical & cultural importance

In Judaism

After the kingdoms of Israel và Judah had fallen, in 722 bce (before the Common Era, equivalent to bc) & 587/586 bce, respectively, the Hebrew people outlived defeat, captivity, and the loss of their national independence, largely because they possessed writings that preserved their history and traditions. Many of them did not return to lớn Palestine after their exile. Those who did return did so to lớn rebuild a temple và reconstruct a society that was more nearly a religious community than an independent nation. The religion found expression in the books of the Old Testament: books of the Law (Torah), history, prophecy, & poetry. The survival of the Jewish religion & its subsequent incalculable influence in the history of Western culture are difficult to lớn explain without acknowledgment of the importance of the biblical writings.

When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 ce (Common Era, equivalent lớn ad), the historical, priestly sacrificial worship centred in it came khổng lồ an kết thúc và was never resumed. But the religion of the Jewish people had by then gone with them inkhổng lồ many lands, where it retained its character and vitality because it still drew its nurture from biblical literature. The Bible was with them in their synagogues, where it was read, prayed, and taught. It preserved their identity as a people, inspired their worship, arranged their calendar, permeated their family lives; it shaped their igiao dịch, sustained them in persecution, & touched their intellects. Whatever Jewish talent & genius have contributed lớn Western civilization is due in no small degree lớn the influence of the Bible.

In Christianity

The Hebrew Bible is as basic to Christianity as it is khổng lồ Judaism. Without the Old Testament, the New Testament could not have been written và there could have sầu been no man lượt thích Jesus; Christianity could not have sầu been what it became. This has lớn vày with cultural values, basic human values, as much as with religious beliefs. The Genesis stories of prehistoric events và people are a conspicuous example. The Hebrew myths of creation have sầu superseded the racial mythologies of Latin, Germanic, Slavonic, và all other Western peoples. This is not because they contain historically factual information or scientifically adequate accounts of the universe, the beginning of life, or any other subject of knowledge, but because they furnish a profoundly theological interpretation of the universe & human existence, an intellectual framework of reality large enough khổng lồ make room for developing philosophies and sciences.

This biblical structure of ideas is shared by Jews and Christians. It centres in the one và only God, the Creator of all that exists. All things have sầu their place in this structure of ideas. All mankind is viewed as a unity, with no race existing for itself alone. The Covenant people (i.e., the Hebrews in the Old Testament & Christians in the New Testament) are chosen not to enjoy special privileges but khổng lồ serve sầu God’s will toward all nations. The individual’s sacred rights condemn his abuse, exploitation, or neglect by the rich and powerful or by society itself. Widows, orphans, the stranger, the friendless, and the helpless have a special claim. God’s will and purpose are viewed as just, loving, and ultimately prevailing. The future is God’s, when his rule will be fully established.

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The Bible went with the Christian Church inkhổng lồ every lvà in Europe, bearing its witness lớn God. The church, driven in part by the power of biblical themes, called men to lớn ethical và social responsibility, to a life answerable khổng lồ God, khổng lồ love sầu for all men, lớn sonship in the family of God, and khổng lồ citizenship in a kingdom yet lớn be revealed. The Bible thus points to a way of life never yet perfectly embodied in any society in history. Weighing every existing kingdom, government, church, party, and organization, it finds them wanting in that justice, mercy, & love sầu for which they were intended.

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